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Hawaii geothermal plant owner aims to restart this year

HILO, Hawaii — The owner of a Hawaii geothermal plant that had to close during last year’s eruption of Kilauea volcano plans to bring the plant back online by the end of the year.

Ormat Technologies CEO Isaac Angel made the statement in company financial results released last week, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported .

The 38-megawatt Puna Geothermal Venture plant was taken offline and evacuated soon after the volcano began erupting on May 3. Before the eruption, it provided nearly a quarter of the electricity used on the Big Island.

Lava destroyed a substation and covered a few geothermal wells during the eruption. It also cut off road access to the power plant. Otherwise, the plant was spared significant damage.

Puna Geothermal built a temporary road in December, allowing people and equipment to traverse the hardened lava channel.

The plant still needs service power lines to connect to the Hawaii Electric Light Co. grid in order to test all the equipment. A water well has been constructed to restore water service.

Angel didn’t note any major hurdles preventing the power plant from restarting.

“Initial tests from the geothermal injection wells indicate higher temperatures at the reservoir with no sign of any negative impact on pressure,” he said in the statement. “In light of that, we currently estimate that we will be ready for operation by year end 2019.”

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